Tails of a Dog Therapist – Episode Six

Episode 6

It’s been snowing a lot this week, I like snow, I don’t really like being out in it, I don’t see the fascination in being cold and wet after a snowball fight or not being able to feel your hands after building a snowman. I’d much rather sit indoors cuddled up with my dogs and enjoy looking at the undisturbed snow out of the window. To start with, my dogs seemed to feel the same way about it as I do. I opened the back door to let them out and they all went charging out of it like normal and then suddenly all put the brakes on and started turning round to come back in again causing a doggy pile up in my back porch. I then had to go through a couple of days where indoor accidents were a common occurrence because they didn’t want to step out there to go to the toilet. When I shut the door they’d all just balance on the back steps trying desperately not to venture too far out in it and I’d have to make sure I locked the door because Bo knows how to open it and would just let them all back in again.

I have a dog gate up in the doorway connecting my back porch to my kitchen so tried just closing that but then they just pee’d in the porch and one evening I put my foot in my wellies and found someone had pee’d in them!

It’s easy to get frustrated by these things and at one time I would have been too ashamed to tell anyone about it. How can you help people with their dogs behaviour issues if you can’t even get yours to toilet where they’re meant to?

In actual fact what I was more frustrated with was the fact that to start with I handled it like a behaviourist rather than a therapist. I shut them out and watched them ready to praise then and reward them as soon as they toileted outside.

So let’s look at this from a therapy point of view instead…..

What I eventually did was communicate with my dogs to find out how we could resolve the situation and we compromised. If I left the door open for them then they would go out and toilet and then run back in again straight away. They didn’t want me to wait for them all to go out and then shut the door like I normally do in the winter because then they had to wait out in the cold until I wanted to let them back in. Even having the dog gate shut wasn’t any good for them because yet again they were waiting for me to let them back in and only a couple of dogs can fit in the porch the rest still had to wait outside in the cold, so they were trying to be the ones that stayed in the porch to secure their indoor spot. If I would leave the door open for a bit then they promised to go out to toilet again.

I started to do as they asked and they did in fact start to go out, do their business and then come running back in again. As time went on I found that they were spending longer outside and they were actually starting to enjoy the snow and play in it. Again I spoke to them about this and the reply was that because they now knew that they could come in as soon as they felt cold they had started to relax and enjoy being out there.

This is why I love the fact that I have come away from the general training and behaviour techniques. The emotional distress I would have been causing my dogs if I had carried on down the general behaviour route would have probably caused them to need a course of therapy. The more I do this work the more I realise that although we may need to use one or more therapy techniques to help them overcome any emotional or energetic distress they are going through, usually all that is needed is for us to listen to and understand our dogs. All they really want is to be treated as the equal sentient being that they are and to be given the opportunity to have their say over the things they are expected to do in their lives